Nowtopian

Nowtopian

economy, 'technology', public space, San Francisco past and present, class, books

Nowtopian RSS Feed
 
 
 
 

Monarchs at 10,000 feet!

Climbing to apx. 3,000 meters, the view back is gorgeous... Notice the welcoming party of Monarchs fluttering here and here in the foreground?

Climbing to apx. 3,000 meters, the view back is gorgeous... Notice the welcoming party of Monarchs fluttering here and here in the foreground?

We made it on horseback to the high mountains along the Michoacan/State of Mexico border and immersed ourselves in the magical wonderland of the Monarch butterfly‘s wintering biosphere reserve among the oyamel trees. Absolutely amazing experience!

All over the forest were dense clusters of Monarchs like these.

All over the forest were dense clusters of Monarchs like these.

This dense colony of hibernating butterflies is somewhat far away from where I was standing (the preserve is managed by locals, who keep a string barrier up to prevent clumsy tourists from tramping through the whole area).

This dense colony of hibernating butterflies is somewhat far away from where I was standing (the preserve is managed by locals, who keep a string barrier up to prevent clumsy tourists from tramping through the whole area).

The back story to the Monarchs makes it twice as interesting. They are amazing migrants, and the biological processes underlying their migration are still rather mysterious. It’s known that Monarchs from as far north as Ontario in Canada make their way across the Great Lakes and in a few months, starting on the Autumn Equinox September 21 they make their way to central Mexico. The Monarchs to the east of the Rockies trek down to Mexico, the ones to the west winter in California (and are far fewer in number). But the Monarchs who make this improbably 3,000 mile migration have never been to Mexico! They are the great-great-great-grandchildren of the Monarchs who left the Mexican mountains about eight months earlier. The butterflies live for about a month, one generation succeeding the next, until it’s time to migrate back south. Then the Monarch lives for about 8 months until it starts back to the north after the hibernation period.

We had absolutely perfect weather! About 70 degrees F. and blue skies with a few pretty clouds.

We had absolutely perfect weather! About 70 degrees F. and blue skies with a few pretty clouds.

And as you can see from the video above, they are far from inert during their hibernation. As the midday sun warms them, they break away in search of water to sustain themselves, no longer in need of food, but definitely needing to sip from dew on leaves, or if that’s not available, flying down and down until they find water. We didn’t get to see it, but apparently far below this area on the mountain is a small body of water with thousands of butterflies sipping in it!

butterflies-well-lit-against-dark-background_4460

I’ve never ridden a horse anywhere before. I have usually been completely allergic when around horses in the past… moreover, my parents haven’t ridden horses either, my mom not since teenage life, and my dad probably like me, only once in his life when he was about 8… So it was a shocking thrill to find our horseback ride into the Michoacan mountains to see the wintering site of the Monarch butterflies turning off the relatively easy rutted dirt road onto a practically vertical narrow trail. We went up and up, about 4,500 feet from where we started in Zitacuaro at the friendly and very comfy Rancho San Cayetano.

My father and I on horses in Michoacan!

My father and I on horses in Michoacan!

Adriana took this good shot when the butterflies were on the move in the warm sun.

Adriana took this good shot when the butterflies were on the move in the warm sun.

So magical!

So magical!

My father at the very top of the climb! Wow! 77 years old and never rode a horse! What a trooper!

My father at the very top of the climb! Wow! 77 years old and never rode a horse! What a trooper!

My mom and Adriana coming up the trail... but my mother's sciatica was killing her so she had to stop a bit before the top... still she got to sit among the flowing rivers of butterflies too!

My mom and Adriana coming up the trail... but my mother's sciatica was killing her so she had to stop a bit before the top... still she got to sit among the flowing rivers of butterflies too!

Adriana on the trail from where we left our horses, butterflies swirling all about.

Adriana on the trail from where we left our horses, butterflies swirling all about.

Share and Enjoy:
  • email
  • Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • Google Buzz
  • MySpace
  • Faves
  • FriendFeed
  • Add to favorites
  • Orkut
  • Tumblr
  • LinkedIn
  • Ping.fm
  • Yahoo! Buzz

Leave a Reply

Webdevelopment byPajamadeen.com